Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Friday, March 31, 2006

To a mediation yesterday at the Larkin Building. Of course, it's not the real one-- I've joked for years that Graycliff should sell shirts with a picture of the real one and the caption, "Buffalo-- We've Torn Down More Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings Than Most Cities Even Have". This Larkin building is actually a Larkin warehouse that was better known to folks around here as the old Graphic Controls place. It sat for years, nearly a ruin, until they fixed it up and turned it into office space, and make no mistake, they did a fine job of it. It's mighty big, although apparently it was not one of the bigger buildings on the Larkin Complex: in this illustration it is the building on the left. None of the rest of those buildings are there now-- so it dominates the view, and it affords terrific views, of the city to the north, and of the remains of Buffalo's industrial infrastructure and the lake to the west. I have to say I like it better than a suburban office park-- they knew how to build 'em a hundred years ago-- but in the end I'm not so sure that there is all that much difference between working in the middle of nowhere in the 'burbs or the middle of nowhere in the old industrial quarter. There's the Swan Street Tavern two blocks over, and a cafeteria in the building, but for anything else you are getting in your car. Nice to visit, but not for me.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A word about "The Funnies" over on the right. The Houston Chronical has a feature that allows you to select the comics you want to read and create a page of them. I haven't been able to figure out how to make it update automatically, so it is necessary to go to the end of the url and manually change the date, but that small effort is rewarded by being able to read Gil Thorpe, Apartment 3G, Mark Trail, Rex Morgan MD, Tank MacNamara....

The Buffalo News doesn't see fit to run these, prefering stupid Prickly City, Garfield and that ilk. For my money, a single panel of Mary Worth offers more hilarity than 80% of the News' funnies, so I've been driven online. I'd add Get Fuzzy and Doonsbury to my Custom Page, but then the only reason to read the News at all would be Bob Curran. Oh, right, he's dead.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I've had some beauts over the years, but this guy Moussaoui has got to win the Worst Client Ever Prize. "Me and the Shoe Bomber, that was the plan. Sure, we're like this, me 'n him. And before that, I was on the grassy knoll. Yeah, that's the ticket." Can you imagine what the witness prep must have been like? "Uh, Mr. Moussaoui, you weren't even born when McKinley was shot. You've never even been to Buffalo."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I'm just going to have to find time to read "Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984", and them I'm going to want to spend some time with the on-line discography. Reynolds and Stephen Metcalf chatted on Slate when the book came out, and I resisted, but this stuff is my stuff, and I guess I knew all along that I wouldn't be able to hold out forever.

Sometimes when I tune into The River there is a DJ, which can be a little jarring. He takes some of the shear randomness out of the process, and occasionally it is even possible to discern a theme. It is a mild thrill to realize that this is going on, even though it doesn't really improve what gets played all that much. The guy does pretty much what I'd do, or any of us would do, confronted with what sounds like the entire record collections of everyone in my dorm at Geneseo, circa 1975-79-- he says, "Huh. Haven't heard this in a while," then plays it. Admit it, if you came across "Jessie's Girl" right now, you'd do the same thing. Sometimes he throws in some anodyne fact about the music-- it could be that they have him locked in there with a mildewed stack of old Rolling Stone magazines as well.

Lately it seems he has been on a CSNY kick. He played "Ohio" the other day, and this morning, from David Crosby's stoner classic, "If I Could Only Remember My Name" he played "Traction In The Rain". He prefaced the later by talking about Crosby's drug bust-- a true aficionado would have mentioned that the song features Joni Mitchell on autoharp. I'm not sure when it occurred to me that CSNY really piss me off-- I suspect that I came to the realization much later than I should have. Leaving Neil Young out of it for a moment, what an insufferable bunch. Actually, let's leave Young in it for a minute-- isn't it pretty gross that this bunch of hippies made money on a song about Kent State? Even if it is a song with a great guitar hook, which it is, it's pretty hard to listen to them yelping about it.

Now we can leave Young out. At the time Crosby, Stills and Nash seemed pretty groovy, but with the benefit of hindsight, you just know that who got top billing was a huge fight. And what work did they do that was so worthwhile? Stills' first solo album-- the one with "Love the One You're With" was what we called, back in tenth grade, a pretty good guitar album. It would be, what with featured performances by Eric Clapton, back when he was g-d (and nearly as elusive) and Jimi. You have to be impressed with the ego that would mix g-d and Hendrix under his own guitar-- bravo Steve. I still like "If I Could Only Remember My Name", but you don't see me haunting Championship Vinyl looking for a fresh copy. And, I would put it to you, that's it. Apart from Neil Young, those two sides represent the sum total of the worthwhile music that CSN produced after "Deja Vu". When you consider that the worthwhile music on "Crosby, Stills and Nash" and "Deja Vu" amounts to about 50% of each, that's pretty slim pickings. Damn hippies.

Monday, March 27, 2006

I've never done the shad roe thing, and I think this will be the year that I do.

Shad Roe Sauteed in Butter
1 pair shad roe
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 lemon

Puncture the roe in several places with a pin. Season roe with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a skillet with a lid. Add roe and GENTLY sautée for 3-4 minutes. Turn over with care, using a spatula. Cover and let simmer for about 6 or 7 minutes. Divide roe in half carefully. Transfer to plates. Spoon melted butter over roe, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges.

I think capers, too, and perhaps bacon, or pancetta.

We finished up with "Firefly" this weekend, watching the dvd of the shows that we hadn't seen Saturday, then watching "Serenity" last night. I can understand why the show sank without a trace, even though I liked it. For all that it had a pleasing light touch, it seemed a tad too fond of its loping, laconic style. "Buffy" was fast paced, and this helped to suspend disbelief. "Firefly" was more amiable, and this gave me time to wonder too much about how the ship was viable as a business, and what the basis of the economy portrayed was-- they seemed to get paid in coins, mostly. Maybe that's why the ship looked like it was lit with 60 watt bulbs

I'm glad we approched it the way we did. I don't think the movie would stand alone. Still, it was nice to see what they were able to do with a budget. For the most part I have resisted the impulse to watch television programs on dvd-- if it is a show I am enjoying, the impulse to watch a whole bunch at one sitting is too much for me. This is not the best way to watch tv, and it is possible that "Firefly" suffered some from being watched that way. I am in the process of making a mental list of things to do with EGA when she returns from the Middle Kingdom-- I think we may have a second look then, if only so she can translate the swearing.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Via BoingBoing, this comic suggests that perhaps the South Dakota state senator who helped push through the state ban on abortion be consulted by women whenever they are confronted by a choice. Paper or plastic? Baked or fries? Window or aisle? What the hell happened to the state that gave us George McGovern and James AbourezkPosted by Picasa

In the early handicapping for NY Attorney General the attention seems to be focusing on the downstate contenders-- Mark Green heard there was an opening, so he's running; and Andy Cuomo is thought to be the frontrunner. I was pleased, therefore, to see that Denise O'Donnell has an ad appearing in the on-line version of the New York Observer (next to Ron Rosenbaum's column-- exquisite placement). I have every reason to think that she'd be terrific in the job. It's funny-- the AG is popularly viewed as a prosecutor, and of course the job does contain that dimension, but it is really more than that, and the office itself depends more on the administrative and leadership abilities of the person holding it than on any other single quality. The people who have been good at it, in my time, have been interested mostly in being good Attorney Generals, rather than in using the post as a steppingstone to some other office. I like Spitzer, and I think he has a good team, but I am less impressed with the job he has done than I was with Bob Abrams, for example. I doubt that O'Donnell harbors any secret fantasies about being governor or President, and she has solid experience running an office that resembles the office she is running for. It seems like the timing may be right-- the boys that are running so that they will have a state-wide bully pulpit for the next job that opens up (like, for example, a certain Senate seat that may become available) might beat themselves up and allow a candidate from the second largest city in the state to sneak in.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A list of the most linked to blogs as of September, 2000. Interesting for several reasons. First, personally, I read slightly less than half of these pretty regularly before and after I started Outside Counsel. I read about eight of the 38 that are still in operation today. Of the now defunct, only Whim & Vinegar was ever something I went to regularly. Looking over the list, I don't think that it is entirely accurate to say that these sites were not "political"-- but they were certainly not polemical. For the most part they were general interest sites written by people whose interests included politics, intellectual property issues, "web culture" (which they helped to define, of course), pop culture, and their own day-to-day lives. Still today I find that such sites are the most interesting. I also find it notable that the measure of popularity used is the number of links "posted by weblogs on the web". Back then Camworld seemed to have the most comprehensive list-- it is now called "The Original Blogroll", but I'm not sure when the list that is now there was captured in amber. I do know that a fair number of sites that I still visit were originally brought to my attention by that list. Back then, it seems to me, the notion of how weblogs operated was somewhat different. Commenting systems were less common; instead people cross-linked and engaged in discussions by quoting and cross-linking. Being added to someone's list was a big deal-- people had elaborate policies about it. It seems to me that this is less of a thing now-- a blogroll is more of a personal bookmarks page, and less of a resource for one's readers. Measuring popularity by looking at the number of other places that have a site on their blogroll would not be a useful methodology today: you'd want to look at visitors or unique page views, or Google ranks or something. (Via Kottke-- number 2 with a bullet back in the day.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spencer Tunick does an instalation, and my numbers go through the roof.. The Daze Reader link takes people to my account of Tunick's instalation at Buffalo's Central Terminal, which appeared in somewhat altered form in Buffalo Spree. I recall noticing that there seemed to be quite a few people who had participated in Tunick instalations elsewhere; I'd happily travel to participate in one again.

Unfortunately, if you are here looking for naked, that's pretty much all of it that we have here. Sorry.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

On the morning run with my like-minded TIDA attendees we fell to talking about what people who travel a lot talk about: hotels and airlines. Business travel is a funny thing: although it is interesting to see different places, quite a lot of the time what you actually see are lobbies, conference rooms and airports. I was thinking that I haven't been doing so much travel lately as I used to, but upon reflection I am probably doing as much, or more. It just blends in.

Something that has really been frosting me lately is paying for internet connectivity at my hotel. Paying for connectivity at all is irritating, frankly. I know I pay for it at home and in the office, but when I'm out in the wide world, I want to be able to launch into cyberspace. Hotels are expensive enough-- it is simply chintzy to charge an extra $10.95 so that I can check my mail, or go to Westlaw, or goof around for a while reading blogs. Worse are airports that charge: the Buffalo-Niagara airpot does, and I think this sends a terrible message about our region (probably an accurate one, though). In Federal Court, of course, you are held incommunicado, but I see no reason whatsoever for connectivity to be fee based in New York State Supreme.

Worse than that, though, is when hotels charge extra for health club access. The hotel on the campus of the iconic American restaurant's headquarters wanted ten bucks, but worse than that was Paris Las Vegas, which wanted $25 bucks. If I'm going to pay $25 bucks to go to the gym, I want to see the Laker Girls there. Obviously in Vegas they would prefer it if you don't go to the gym, but c'mon. When I unpack, I want to be able to do something to work the pooled blood out of my legs, and I don't think it is at all reasonable to hit me for $25 bucks for the pleasure.

Electronic filing seems like such an appealing notion. Rather than rush to the courthouse counsel can do what needs to be done sitting in their pajamas, like bloggers. The reality is somewhat different, and since it's federal court we are talking about here, I can't see things changing for the better any time soon. Right off the bat there is the problem of identity. Each of the four federal district courts in New York require counsel to register separately. The courts assign a user name and a password, and although I guess you can change the password, I haven't been able to. The user names are pretty arbitrary, too. On some level this makes a sort of sense-- one is admitted to each of the federal districts separately, they are administered separately. Even so, this is a lot of bother.

There is also the interface, something called ECF/Pacer. It is horrible-- completely non-intuitive. There is no way to tell what or where hyperlinks are, there are no on-screen prompts, it's ugly. It also appears to be incompatible with Firefox-- or, at least, I can't log on using Firefox. (Westlaw chokes on Firefox as well, a grievance for another day.) It is clunky technology, and I hate it. Oh, and did I mention that if you want to search for stuff they charge you? Who invented this system?

The 20 Greatest Tools Ever (and Duct Tape.)(Via The Morning News.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bob Dylan's Greenwich Village. (Via the Morning News.)

I'm always impressed when the wheelchair athletes start at the Boilermaker, and without fail I think to my self that I hope I'd have the spirit to do that if I found myself in their situation. Athletes are athletes as much by self-definition as anything else, which is why I believe I still qualify. Even so, my first reaction when I heard about the high school girl who is suing to compete on the track with non-wheelchair athletes, was to have some doubts. On the track, at least, I think we are kind of talking about events that are different enough for there to be an legitimate question, at least as a threshold issue.

Upon consideration, I think that she should probably prevail, but it is a closer call than it might appear on first blush. Ms. McFadden is mostly obliged to compete on the track alone, and this is antithetical to the mainstreaming rational that underlies the ADA. She is not asking to be scored against the runners-- she just wants to be on the track at the same time as the other athletes. Particularly in the context of high school athletics, this does not seem to me to be an unreasonable accommodation. Her mother nails it: "High school sports is "not about winning or losing, it's about learning a whole lot of other things," Deborah McFadden said. "Part of it is being with your friends. When you have a disability, it sometimes isolates you."

I wish more people understood that about scholastic sports. I often think that my schoolboy athletic career prepared me more for the rest of my life than any other single thing I did in school-- and I hope that Ms. McFadden gets the same opportunity.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Last night Terry Gross had Paul Motian on. I have wanted to pick up on the trio work he has been doing with Bill Frizzel and Joe Lovano for some time, but I think first this.

Watching Matt Wilson last Sunday I continued to think about why drummers are good leaders in jazz. Rock'n'roll bands fronted by drummers are awful, and it doesn't happen at all in other forms, but there are any number of great jazz bands where the timekeeper is the main man. Part of this has to do, I think, with the way a good drummer frames what everyone else on the stand is doing. After Fresh Air was over I listened to some Bill Evans, and it is certainly true that when he worked with Motian (and LaFaro)he had a dimension that was unique. That trio almost sounds like a single instrument, and, like all great jazz, absolutely sounds like they are all thinking together.

Monday, March 13, 2006

To Dewey Redman at Bruce Eaton's Microsoft Art of Jazz yesterday, expecting something along the lines of Ornette Coleman, and getting more of a hard bop thing, which was mighty fine indeed. Anchored by Matt Wilson, and featuring Frank Kimbrough on piano (he'd just been through with the Maria Schneider Orchestra)the band swung along beautifully. Eaton's pre-show talk was something of a preview for next season, and something of a discussion about the state of jazz. Like most aficionados, Eaton is troubled by the fact that this music is less appreciated in the US than abroad. I'm not so sure that this is a bad thing-- the reality is that the economics of the music industry is changing radically-- in all genres. Jazz more than most has been a form that has depended upon the sale of recordings, really from its inception, and that's not how music is distributed in the 21st Century. If musicians are going to make money, they are going to have to do two things: they are going to have to get out and tour-- a lot-- and they are going to have to sell their music themselves, over the web and at their performances. Maria Schneider gets it, but too many people haven't worked this out yet.

I got a call last week from a singer who wanted to go work in Japan, and had some legal questions. You could back a truck up and fill it with what I don't know about Japanese law, but I knew where to send her, and I wish her luck. I think it is terrific that Paulette McWilliams is appreciated in Japan, and can make a buck doing what she loves-- and I think it is terrific that she is out there doing it for herself, instead of waiting for Blue Note to do it for her.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I'm not sure what the source of the impulse was, but some time back I added "Victory" to our Netflix queue. It came yesterday, and we watched it last night. Have you seen it? It's kind of a cross between "The Great Escape" and "The Longest Yard" with soccer instead of football and Stallone instead of good. Pele is in it-- A. unkindly said that he has the Trini Lopez part-- and the Allied team features a number of soccer greats from the period, including Bobby Moore and Pieter Van Beck. No effort is made to account for the presence of Pele in a POW camp, and the movie suffers from too little football and too much Stallone, but the football that's in it is pretty good, I'd say, and even the Stallone is Stallone back when he was merely buff rather than the cartoon charactor he became.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Somewhere down there EGA is cavorting with pandas and monkeys, like a character in a children's book. Her internet silence over the past week has made me think about how spoiled the 21st century has made us. When I was a student I like to think that I was a pretty fair correspondent, but weblogs and email and IM has made keeping up much easier, and far more immediate. I miss hearing from her, and the mental picture of her in Pandaland (wearing, for no good reason, one of those broad-rimmed conical hats that people in China wear in children's books) is small solace. Posted by Picasa

Stanley Crouch can give me a pain, but when he's right, he's right. A few weeks back I discovered that I'd nearly maxxed out my harddrive. Some investigation revealed that this was because I had damn near 20gb worth of music there. Reasoning that anything I had on CD could be re-loaded, I cleaned house by deleting any artist represented by more than two album's worth of material. What I didn't know was that this would also purge my iPod-- at least, as I had it set up. The result was an interesting listening experience, with a lot of music that had been overlooked percolating to the surface. No more Miles, no more Monk, no more Beatles, no more Dylan-- and no Trane, among others. Truth to tell, though, I need to hear that music. I especially missed Coltrane, due, probably to the amount of time lately that I've been past Pinelawn, where he is buried. I can't find myself on LI without wanting to hear "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise" or "Blue Train" or "While My Lady Sleeps" or "Lush Life" or-- you get the picture.

So I've been reloading things. I was somewhat less discriminating last time. One of the things that is fun about the iPod, after all, is filling it up, and as music lover I have always been inclined to be something of a completist-- I can't tell you how many versions of "Autumn Leaves" I own, and the redundancies in my Dylan collection are horrible to contemplate (even though, like Ron Rosenbaum, "I always feel that when an artist is obsessed with returning to one of his early works, it's worth our while to take the proper time to understand why.")

All of which is a long way of getting back to Mr. Crouch. I was listening to "Cresent" just the other night, taking advantage of the opportunity reloading my iPod presented, and there's no getting around the fact that it is pretty terrific. Is it "John Coltrane's Finest Hour Before he jumped into the aesthetic abyss"? Well, that's where Mr. Crouch and I might differ-- I think "aesthetic abyss" is pretty strong talk. I think I will stick with keeping it on my iPod for the next time I have to go out to Mineola.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

This list of Ten Memorable Saturday Night Live Musical Moments certainly contains some good stuff, but can hardly be regarded as definitive. Not without Devo, it ain't-- one of those, "What was that?" events that stay with you forever. Not without Paul Simon and George Harrison dueting on "Here Comes the Sun". Not without Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger singing, "Walk and Don't Look Back". I could go on.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I went "live" with Outside Counsel five years ago today. To date the best, truest thing anybody has ever said to me about it was Dave's question: "When people go to your site, what were they actually looking for?"

Monday, March 06, 2006

James Sample has an excellent piece on the folly of an elected judiciary up at Slate.

"[J]udicial independence matters. Elected legislators are expected to serve interest-group constituencies. They are expected to build coalitions; to promise outcomes; and to be held accountable for those promises. The representative branches function best when officials are lobbied by contributors and non-contributors alike. But judges—including elected judges—are different. They function best when "lobbied" not at all, or only within the adversarial process and on the basis of law. Judges are accountable for the fundamental American promise of fair trials before impartial arbiters. Therein lies the tragic consequence of money's increasing influence in judicial elections. In the long term, we all suffer—including interest groups—when any decision reinforces suspicions that the biggest donor, and not the best case, wins."

In New York we have merit selection for the judges of our highest court, but all of the judges on our intermediate appellate courts are elected, ad most of our trial court judges are too. This is, perhaps, even worse than having the judges of the highest court elected. More people come into contact with trial level courts, and it's worse when there is even a hint that the system isn't fair at that level.

The new Ben & Jerry's flavors for 2006 include Black and Tan When I got an ice cream maker I toyed with the notion of savory ice creams, and stout was one of the first I thought about. Unfortunately experimenting along those lines would mean eating a lot more ice cream than I ought. (Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

I was sorry to learn that Dave Fielding died. We practiced together at Saperston & Day. His S&D experience ended poorly, like just about everybody's S&D experience did, I suppose, and that's too bad. He was a lawyer's lawyer, who suffered fools not at all. I was always flattered that we got along, and I'll miss seeing him out and about.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

EGA* writes:

"Today was our midterm. For the past few days I have been all worked up about
preparing for this test (or as worked up as I ever get about tests, which is really
not very -- it’s mainly for show) because you know what? I have learned a lot of
Chinese since I’ve been here. So much that I sometimes find myself wondering, “How
did I ever communicate before?” And then I remember, oh right I SPOKE ENGLISH THEN.
(Have I mentioned that two people received warning letters for speaking English at
the ACC party awhile ago? Three guesses who. And of course this is ACC’s policy:
get caught speaking English three times and it’s back to America for you.) But I
mean, think of it! Two months ago I could never have said in Chinese that my life
was like a pool of stagnant water! Now I say that all the time! (And wouldn’t you?)
That’s what I call progress.

"Anyway, test test test and now tomorrow morning we are off to Sichuan, where the
teachers have warned us that wild monkeys will try to steal our belongings. I find
it rather incredible that I’m in a country that has wild monkeys. Also pandas, which
is pretty awesome. I am psyched for seeing pandas even though I find their
reluctance to survive kind of irritating. "Mate, dash it! Also, don’t evolve to only
eat one thing!" Sichuan is very far away -- thirty hours on a Chinese train, heaven
help me. That is the sort of situation that makes me wish I had an iPod or
something. But I shall resist. I have "What Maisie Knew" and "Anna Karenina".

"I expect I’ll be out of touch for about a week, but I’ll have lots of stories
(possibly involving monkeys) when I return."

*Her Blogger access was iffy, so she asked me to post for her.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Shake Shake reopens March 21. I went way more than I should have last year, and I intend to do so again this.

A site I used to read quite a bit before I started Outside Counsel was Synthetic Zero, a very thoughtful piece of work, similar to Lemon Yellow. For a while now I've been trying to remember the details of a parable Mitsu had posted some time back; last night, after poking around in his archives I wrote to him and asked where it could be found. Here it is:

"There is a story about the two greatest swordsmakers in ancient Japan. It was said if you held a sword made by the second greatest swordsmaker in a stream, it would cut a leaf in half as it floated by. But if you held the sword of the greatest swordsmaker, the leaves would flow around the blade, unharmed."

I had forgotten the context, which made revisiting it moving and interesting. (And thanks, Mitsu, for getting back to me).

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